The Whistle Stop School (WSS) is a literacy remediation and enrichment school run  by GADRA Education in partnership with the Development and Care Centre (DCC) and select public primary schools.

78% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning in their Mother Tongue. By the end of Grade 3, learners are expected to have ‘learnt to read’, so that they can begin to ‘read to learn’ from the beginning of Grade 4. Because teachers no longer teach basic literacy skills from the beginning of the Intermediate Phase, those who cannot read fluently by then (‘the 78%’) fall further and further behind in their school education. Many of these learners will ultimately drop-out from school and very few will obtain a National Senior Certificate.

The Whistle Stop School (WSS) was conceptualised in 2016 based on best practice and learning from international and national catch-up interventions.  Research asserts that once a deficit occurs there cannot be adequate catch up without supplementary educational interventions.  In other words, curriculum coverage does not enable catch up; rather WSS takes selected children out of their classrooms in small groups for structured, high-impact literacy interventions facilitated by fully trained teachers.

The results have been extraordinary. WSS has more than remediated literacy problems; it has enabled beneficiaries (all of whom are from poor socio-economic backgrounds) to catch up and then progress ahead of their expected grade reading level. This is what makes WSS remarkable: it is the first SA intervention that has demonstrated significant literacy progress in a single year in children from poor socio-economic backgrounds.  The WSS model holds lessons of national significance, the most significant of which is: teach children not curriculum.

Articles on the Whistle Stop School

Last Modified: Thu, 04 Apr 2019 10:29:42 SAST